If you have a sapling in your hand, and someone should say to you that the Messiah has come, stay and complete the planting, and then go to greet the Messiah (Avot de Rabbi Nathan, 31b) read more »
Our native woodland and native prairie project started at Congregation Beth Shalom one year ago. The plan has four phases, each expected to last one year:
Better a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.—Proverbs 27:10
A fixed threshing floor must be kept fifty cubits away from a town, and as it must be kept fifty cubits from a town, so it must be kept fifty cubits from a neighbor’s cucumber and pumpkin fields, from his plantations and his ploughed fallow, to prevent damage being caused.—Babylonian Talmud, Baba Batra 24b read more »
Focusing locally can be an aspect of the purchasing choices we make, but it also can be applied to focusing our attention to our local ecosystem and natural environment. Different areas of the country and world have different ecosystems, different flora and fauna, and while it is important to have a global consciousness in environmentalism, we can act in a sustainable way by doing what we can to promote and preserve our local ecosystem, the one on which we have the most impact.
One who sells his or her land to another is obligated to give his neighbor who has an adjoining field precedence in any sale… This is in accordance with the principle stated in Torah, “you shall do that which is right and good.” [Deuteronomy 6:18] Our Sages said that... it is right and good that the adjoining landowner should have a prior right of purchase over the one whose fields are far away. —Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Neighbors 12:5
Better a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away. —Proverbs 27:10 read more »
You shall eat unleavened bread for seven days. (Lev. 23:5-6)
Earlier, in Exodus, the command to eat unleavened bread was offset by this command not to eat any leavened products:
Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land. (Ex. 12:19) read more »
It is forbidden to live in a town that does not have a green garden—Jerusalem Talmud, Kiddushin 4:12 read more »
Our congregation is small, less than 100 families. We’re not large enough to have our own worship space - we meet in a church. Even so, we have an active Social Action/Tikkun Olam Committee. We are part of the Baltimore Interfaith Hospitality Network, providing housing and support for homeless families. We’ve participated in efforts to end the atrocities in Darfur. We presented Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth and used proceeds from the sale of popcorn to purchase compact florescent light bulbs. We were sponsors of the Baltimore Jewish Environmental Conference and participate in the newly formed Baltimore Environmental Network of Synagogues.
On June 11, at 6:30 P.M. thousands of people of all faiths and backgrounds will gather at the Washington National Cathedral for the second Interfaith Convocation on hunger. We will raise our voices as one and work together to end hunger throughout the United States and the world.
A pre-Convocation gathering of the Jewish community is happening at 5:00 P.M. at Temple Michah, 2829 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20007. read more »
Let’s communicate that we care as Reconstructionists by attending in large numbers. JRF's Rabbi Shawn Zevit will be leading the Reconstructionist delegation.
Two centuries ago William Wordsworth wrote:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
Two years ago Ellen Bernstein, founder of Shomrei Adamah wrote:
Since the environmental crisis is a spiritual crisis, a sign of separation from nature and our selves, we must mend the division and fix the brokenness at the root.(p. 13, The Splendor of Creation, Pilgrim Press, 2005) read more »
But how do we, as Wordsworth might put it, get our hearts back? What might lead us back from the brink of devastating separation from the rest of the world?
Today is the 8th anniversary of the Columbine school killings, and a few days after the horrific massacre at Virginia Tech. The airwaves and print media and cyberspace are filled with discussions of could it have been prevented, what to do now, talk of mental health services at universities, gun control, campus security. read more »
What is weighing on my mind and spirit, however, has more to do with the culture of violence with which we are surrounded in America, and in the world. In some ways, the horror in Blacksburg, Virginia, was an aberration and a “first.” In other ways it was simply one more eruption of the violence with which we are assaulted daily—from the streets of Boston to the marketplaces of Baghdad.
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said: Three things are of equal importance—earth, humans and rain. Rabbi Levi ben Hiyyata taught: Without earth, there is no rain, and without rain, the earth cannot endure, and without either, humans cannot exist. —Genesis Rabbah 13:3 read more »
If I had to sum up the whole of Jewish environmentalism in one word, that would be the word balance. We must grasp the concept of ecosystems and the notion that all aspects of creation depend on one another.
If, along the road, you chance upon a bird’s nest, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs and the mother sitting over the fledglings or on the eggs, do not take the mother together with her young. Let the mother go, and take only the young, in order that you may fare well and have a long life. Deuteronomy Ki Tetzei 22:6-7 read more »
Rabbi Arthur Rulnick, a Conservative Rabbi on Long Island who is related to me by marriage, told me that Ki Tetzei has more mitzvot (commandments) than any other in the Torah. Some mitzvot speak to us directly out of the past. An example is not subverting the rights of the stranger or the fatherless. Others, such as the mitzvah of kan-tzipor as described in the quote above, are obscured by layers of historical and technological development and deserve further investigation.